Marlin wonders whether arrears in casino fees will be collected

POSTED: 01/16/14 2:53 PM

St. Maarten – National Alliance leader William Marlin tackled the outstanding casino fees of 10 million guilders in his address during yesterday’s budget debate. “The public is asked to take cuts – in subsidies, in the promotion of St. Maarten, for carnival and the regatta – and they altogether do not add up to 10 million,” he said.

Marlin said the outstanding that is listed in the budget was not built up during the past six months. “Is it outstanding from one casino, or from all casinos together?” he said. “How long have these fees been outstanding and are they still collectible? And will the casinos ever pay?”

The NA-leader noted that putting pressure on the casinos for payment could have an adverse effect. “If you do that the casinos might say that they have one hundred employees and that they will close down if they are forced to pay. Then those employees will be on the streets.”

Marlin said that it is wrong “to let the big boys get away with ten million because they have friends in the government. If the government collected this ten million we would have no problem and the Little League Stadium would not look like it has gone through a war in the Middle East,” he said.

Marlin opened his address with severe criticism about the so-called Christmas motion that was tabled last year by independent MP Patrick Illidge and that was passed in parliament with just six votes. According to Marlin this cannot be because, according to the rules, there must be at least eight votes to  (like 6-2, 5-3 or 8-0) to make a vote in parliament valid. He said he was astonished that the government had taken the vote seriously by sending it for an advice to the Social Economic Council.

The NA-leader furthermore noted that study-debts are not being collected. “Consecutive governments have been unable or unwilling to collect those debts. Is this the reason why students do not come back home? All governments have had a hands-off approach, but it does not make sense to include these debts in the budget. We may as well turn study financing into grants or scholarships.”

Marlin asked whether the government had been able to collect any of the outstanding study debts.

Another point is the National Alliance initiative law to curb the abuse of short-term labor contracts. “Where are we with this issue? Up to now the abuse continues. Some people have been working for eleven years at the same casino, yet they have no permanent contract and they are unable to get a loan for a house or a car.”

Lastly, Marlin pointed to the post for St. Maarten’s member of the Council of State in The Hague. There is a salary listed of 244,000 guilders, but currently St. Maarten does not have a representative on the highest Council of State in the Netherlands. Justice Minister Dennis Richardson was appointed to the post in 2010 and initially there was no reservation in the budget. Last summer Richardson temporary left his post at the Council of State to become minister of justice. He intends to return to the Council of State when his term ends after this year’s election. St. Maarten has not appointed a replacement for the interim period.

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